Only in Canada, you say?
I'll come out and admit that I'm a bad Canadian in one particular respect. I don't care for Maple Syrup. I don't like maple-flavored anything.
But everything else about maple, I love. Our flag, the amazing colours of the leaves at this time of year, even the town I grew up in was named after these beautiful trees.
I love the idea of tapping maple trees for their sap and making something yummy out of it. I love that my grandmother nursed a sugar maple for years, from one farm to another, hoping that one day it would be big enough to produce a few table spoons of sap. I love that Canada accounts for more than 80% of the world's supply of maple syrup. (The US supplies the remaining 20%, give or take.)
I was recently so taken with the idea, I have a heroine in an upcoming book with Harlequin Mills & Boon who grew up on an estate that produces the stuff.
That's why I was so aghast, aghast I tell you, to hear that more than 16,000 barrels (street value approx $20 million) was recently syphoned from the maple syrup reserves and stolen. This is the global strategic reserve, people. Canada is a Superpower of maple syrup production.
What I really appreciate about this story is its hallmarks of a truly Canadian story. I can see this as a movie starring Paul Gross. I mean, it's a Big Deal. It's a theft on a huge scale since we're talking about 16 tanker trucks worth, yet so quirky. Who decides this is a good idea and who thinks they can sell it? Who acts as a fence for 16,000 barrels of syrup? What kind of toque and mack-jacket wearing lumberjacks crept into the warehouse to accomplish this theft? (Can't you just see these MacKenzie Brothers alternately starting the syphon hose and smoking up, going into a sugar high fit of giggles?)
Fortunately, the police have tracked at least some of the stolen syrup to an export company in New Brunswick. They're sending it back to Quebec under guard. The export company thought the search was a joke at first. They bought the syrup in good faith--of course. They're Canadian! We're innocents. Yes, perhaps we'd be suspicious of someone trying to sell us a bridge or even question whether that really was a Hutterite chicken we just bought, but our beloved maple syrup?
The plot thickens as you read further into the Press Release at the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers website. The seizure is only a portion of what has gone missing and the Federation has accused this New Brunswick company in the past of buying from unauthorized syrup producers. Is this yet another anglo/franco conflict? Something motivated by revenge? Are we talking about industrial espionage?
We're talking about Canada, a big country capable of massive undertakings that ultimately result in kitchen table conversation. Want to educate the kids on our patriotic product while you enjoy your Saturday morning pancakes? Check out this link: Agriculture Canada - Maple Syrup.